Ernest Hemingway achieved world-wide fame and influence as a writer by a combination of great emotional power and a highly individual style that could be parodied but never successfully imitated.
His lean and sinewy prose; his mastery of a kind of laconic, understated dialogue; his insistent use of repetition, often of a single word, or name--built up and transmitted an inner excitement to thousands of his readers. In his best work, the effect was accumulative; it was as if the creative voltage increased as the pages turned.
Not all readers agreed on Mr. Hemingway; and his "best" single work will be the subject of literary debate for generations. But possibly "The Old Man and the Sea," published in 1952, had the essence of the uncluttered force that drove his other stories. In it, character stands hard and clear, indomitable in failure. Man--an ordinary although an unusual man- -is a victim of, and yet rises above, the elemental harshness of nature.
Won the Nobel Prize
The short novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953; it unquestionably moved the judges who awarded Mr. Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year. And it was an occasion for relief and joy among those devotees of the novelist to whom "Across the River and Into the Trees," in 1950, had marked a low point in his career.
A great deal of Mr. Hemingway's work showed a preoccupation--frequently called obsession--with violence and death. He loved guns; he was one of the great aficionados of the deadly bullfight. He identified with the adventures of partisan warfare; he swung a burp-gun in guerrilla fighting.
He wrote a great deal of hunting, fishing, prizefighting; with directness and vigor; with the accuracy of a man who has handled the artifacts of a sport, taken them apart, loved them. He was at times a hard liver and a hard drinker. But in a sense this was all part of his being a hard and constant worker--at his profession of observing life and recording it faithfully as he saw it.
Barb From Max Eastman
Mr. Hemingway's fascination with the calibers of cartridges, and exactly what each could do to a living target, and physical conflict generally, brought a barb from Max Eastman in 1937. Mr. Eastman, a writer who had flexed his own muscles in Marxist dialectics rather than in battle or in the hunt, wrote:
"Come out from behind that false hair on your chest, Ernest. We all know you."
When Mr. Hemingway and Mr. Eastman met in the New York offices of Charles Scribner's Sons, blows were exchanged as Mr. Hemingway bared his chest to prove that the hair was not false. In the later part of his life, Mr. Hemingway wore a beard, coarse and grizzled. It became one of the most famous beards in the world, and a kind of symbol of the man himself.
After Mr. Hemingway became a successful writer, much effort was made by psychologists, amateur and professional, to discover why he wrote as he did. In spite of much rummaging around in his childhood and in his days as a young man in Paris, many of the conclusions about him were contradictory. Mainly by trial and error, he had taught himself to write limpid English prose.
Apprentice as a Writer
Of his apprentice days as a writer in Paris, he wrote this:
"I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, was to put down what really happened in action: what the actual things were which produced the emotions that you experienced the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion I was trying to learn to write, commencing with the simplest things."
"All I want to do is write well," he once said.
Mr. Hemingway had a deadpan wit to which he gave many a special twist, as when he translated Spanish literally. Santiago, the man character in "The Old Man and the Sea," is a great American baseball fan and engages in the following dialogue:
"The Yankees cannot lose."
"But I fear the Indians of Cleveland."
"Have faith in the Yankees, my son. Think of the great DiMaggio."
"I fear both the Tigers of Detroit and the Indians of Cleveland."
"Be careful or you will fear even the Reds of Cincinnati and the White Sox of Chicago."
The man who could thus put the nuances of American baseball into the Spanish locutions of a humble fisherman; who rarely lost his sense of the humor that he found was as much a part of war and disaster as was courage itself, was born in Oak Park, Ill., a middle-class suburb of Chicago.
The date was July 21, 1899. Ernest Miller Hemingway was the second child of a family of six children; there were four sisters and a younger brother. His father was Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a large bearded physician who was more devoted to hunting and fishing than to his practice.
His mother was Grace Hall Hemingway, a religious-minded woman who sang in the choir of the First Congregational Church. She gave her son a cello, and for a year made him practice on it. But the boy's father had greater lures. He gave the boy a fishing rod when he was 3 and a shot-gun when he was 10.
With his graduation from Oak Park High, he completed his formal education. He read widely, however, and had a natural facility for languages.
It was wartime, and torment for a spirited young man not to be in the fighting. Finally he managed to get to Italy, where he wangled his way into the fighting as a Red Cross ambulance driver with the Italian Army. Although he arrived too late for the great Italian rout at Caporetto, he learned all about it and described it brilliantly in "A Farewell to Arms," published in 1929.
On July 8, 1918, while he was passing out chocolate candy to frontline troops at Fossalta di Piave, Mr. Hemingway was badly wounded in the leg by an Austrian mortar shell and was hospitalized for many weeks. He received the Medaglia d'Argento al Valore Militare, a high Italian military decoration.
He returned to Chicago, suffering from chronic insomnia. For a while, he edited The House Organ of the Cooperative Society of America. But, inexorably, he drifted to the expatriate Left Bank world of Paris. He had a letter from Sherwood Anderson to Gertrude Stein, and he was soon one of the group of writers who frequented the bookstore of Sylvia Beach--Shakespeare & Co., at 18 Rue de l'Odèon. Here he met, among many others, Andrè Gide and James Joyce.
Mr. Joyce and Mr. Hemingway did a certain amount of drinking together. The author of "Ulysses" was a thin, wispy and unmuscled man with defective eyesight. When they were making the rounds of the cafes and Mr. Joyce became embroiled with a brawler, as he frequently did, he would slip behind his hefty companion and cry, "Deal with him, Hemingway. Deal with him."
It was in Paris that Mr. Hemingway began to write seriously. He was greatly aided by the advice of the austere and sometimes curmudgeonish Miss Stein, whose unadorned style of writing influenced him greatly. If she was exacting, she was also sympathetic, although she was inclined to deride Mr. Hemingway's mania for firearms and thereby often hurt his feelings.
After several trips back to the United States, Mr. Hemingway settled in Europe. But instead of sitting his life away at the Cafè des Deux Magots, as many of his contemporaries did, he worked hard at his writing.
He wrote with discernment about the persons around him. They were his expatriate countrymen, together with the "Lost Generation" British and general European post-war strays, and he limned them with deadly precision.
Before he was established as a writer, Mr. Hemingway underwent the privations that were almost standard for young men of letters in Paris. He lived in a tiny room and often subsisted on a few cents worth of fried potatoes a day. With the publication in 1926 of "The Sun Also Rises" after three years of indifferent response to his work, he achieved sudden fame.
In "The Sun Also Rises," Mr. Hemingway showed the felicity for titles that characterized his work. The title is from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and is in a passage that showed the seemingly meaningless coming and going of the sun, the tides and the winds as the lives of his characters seemed to the author to come and go pointlessly.
A concise biography of Mr. Hemingway that focused on his Paris years was written by his friend, Archibald MacLeish:
Veteran out of the wars before he was twenty;
Famous at twenty-five: thirty a master--
Whittled a style for his time from a walnut stick
In a carpenter's loft in a street of that April city.
In 1928, Mr. Hemingway returned to the United States, where he lived for the next ten years, mostly in Florida. He hated New York City and its literary life and kept away from it as much as he could. He was still only 30 when he published his highly successful "A Farewell to Arms."
When "Death in the Afternoon" was published in 1932, Mr. Hemingway said he had seen 1,500 bulls killed. The great success of the book established its author as one of the great popularizers of bullfighting.
For several years Mr. Hemingway hunted big game in Africa and did much shooting and fishing in different parts of the world. "Winner Take Nothing" was published in 1933 and "The Green Hills of Africa" in 1935.
The latter was one of the best contemporary accounts of the complex relationships between the hunter, the hunted and the African natives who are essential to the ritual of their confrontation. At the same time, the book told as much of Hemingway, the writer's writer, as of Hemingway, the big game hunter. For example:
"... the feeling comes when you write well and truly of something and know impersonally you have written it that way and those who are paid to read it and report on it do not like the subject so they say it is all a fake, yet you know its value absolutely ..."
Like many American intellectuals, Mr. Hemingway offered some degree of support to Left-Wing movements during the Nineteen Thirties. In at least one of his books, "To Have and Have Not" (1937)--his only full-length novel with an American setting--one critic found he had spoken favorably of "social consciousness," and to another he had sounded "vaguely Socialist."
Action and Tragedy
But more readers will remember the work as a tale of action and tragedy in the Florida Keys. They will recall not so much the social aspects of Harry Morgan's career, but probably the remarkable love affair between the doomed boatman and his slatternly wife. Mr. Hemingway might stir the "social consciousness" of individual readers; but if so, he did it by exact characterization, never by didactics.
Nor had Mr. Hemingway ever joined the cafè-sitters, who cheered on the progress of the Left. In 1936, with characteristic directness, he went to Spain. He covered the war for the North American Newspaper Alliance. And in 1940 his novel of the Spanish Civil War, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," showed both that his own deepest sympathies were with the Loyalists, and that he was agonizingly aware of the destructive effect upon their cause of the Communist commissars.
Indeed, the novel was in the broadest sense a lament for everyone involved in the conflict. Its striking title came from John Donne, who had reminded that no man is an island, and had written (in his seventeenth "Devotion"):
"... never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
In the year World War II broke out, Mr. Hemingway took up residence in Cuba. But soon he was back in action in Europe, resuming the combat correspondence he had begun in Spain.
Mr. Hemingway was with the first of the Allied armed forces to enter Paris, where, as he put it, he "liberated the Ritz" Hotel. Later he was with the Fourth United States Infantry Division in an assault in the Huertgen Forest. The Bronze Star was awarded to him for his semi-military services in this action.
In 1950, "Across the River and Into the Trees"--the story of a frustrated and generally "beat up" United States infantry colonel who goes to Venice to philosophize, make love and die--disappointed critics. It touched off "Across the Street and Into the Grill," by E.B. White in The New Yorker. This was probably the supreme parody of Hemingway.
In 1950, The New Yorker also published a multi-part profile of Mr. Hemingway by Lillian Ross, who had spent several days with him in New York. It was a brilliant but savage series; it stirred much controversy and appears to have made more friends for Mr. Hemingway than for Miss Ross. But the most impressive riposte came from the novelist himself. When the profile was published in hard covers, Mr. Hemingway in The New York Herald Tribune listed it among the three books he had found most interesting that year.
"The Old Man and the Sea," two years later, pleased virtually everyone. It relied on the elemental drama of a fisherman who catches the greatest marlin of his life--only to have it eaten to the skeleton by sharks before he can get it to port.
Hurt in Air Crash
The 1954 Nobel Prize citation from the Swedish Academy said in part:
"For his powerful, style-forming mastery of the art of modern narration, as most recently evinced in 'The Old Man and the Sea.'"
On Jan. 23, 1954, the writer and the fourth Mrs. Hemingway, the former Mary Welsh (whom he called Miss Mary) figured in a double crash in Uganda, British East Africa. First reports said both had been killed.
Actually, after one light plane crashed, a second had picked up the couple unhurt. Both Mr. Hemingway and his wife suffered injuries in the crack-up of the rescue plane; and a friend who visited them in Havana soon after found that the novelist's injuries had been more severe than was generally supposed.
Mr. Hemingway's other published writings include "Three Stories and Ten Poems," 1923; "In Our Time," 1925; "The Torrents of Spring," 1926; "Men Without Women," 1927, and "The Fifth Column and First-Forty-nine Stories," in 1938.
Mr. Hemingway earned millions of dollars from his work; for one thing, a great many of his stories and novels were adapted to the screen and television. These included "The Killers," an early gangster story, celebrated for its dialogue; "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," both set in East Africa; "The Sun Also Rises," "A Farewell to Arms," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "The Old Man and the Sea."
Mr. Hemingway's first wife was a boyhood sweetheart, the former Hadley Richardson, whom he married in 1919. She accompanied him on one of his early trips to Paris. They were divorced in 1926.
The next year Mr. Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. This marriage was terminated by divorce in 1940 and in that year Mr. Hemingway married a novelist, Martha Gellhorn. After their divorce Mr. Hemingway married Miss Welsh.
A son, John, was born to Mr. Hemingway and his first wife. Two other sons, Patrick and Gregory, were born to the author and his second wife.
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on 21 July 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Hemingway was the first son and the second child born to Clarence Edmonds "Doc Ed" Hemingway - a country doctor, and Grace Hall Hemingway. Hemingway's father attended the birth of Ernest and blew a horn on his front porch to announce to the neighbors that his wife had given birth to a boy. The Hemingways lived in a six-bedroom Victorian house built by Ernest's widowed maternal grandfather, Ernest Miller Hall, an English immigrant and Civil War veteran who lived with the family. Hemingway was his namesake.
Hemingway's mother once aspired to an opera career and earned money giving voice and music lessons. She was domineering and narrowly religious, mirroring the strict Protestant ethic of Oak Park, which Hemingway later said had "wide lawns and narrow minds".His mother had wanted twins, and when this did not happen, she dressed young Ernest and his sister Marcelline (eighteen months older) in similar clothes and with similar hairstyles, maintaining the pretense of the two children being "twins." Some biographers have suggested that Grace Hemingway further "feminised" her son in his youth by calling him "Ernestine", but male infants and toddlers of the Victorian middle-class were often dressed as females. Many themes in Hemingway's work point to destructive interactions between male and female sexual partners (cf. "Hills Like White Elephants"), within marital unions (cf. "Now I Lay Me", "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"), and among most other combinations of men and women (cf. The Sun Also Rises); in addition certain posthumously published pieces contain ambiguous treatment of gender roles. However, no connection between Hemingway's depiction of these human conditions and his own early childhood experiences has been established.
While his mother hoped that her son would develop an interest in music, Hemingway adopted his father's outdoorsman hobbies of hunting, fishing and camping in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan. The family owned a house called Windemere on Michigan's Walloon Lake and often spent summers vacationing there. These early experiences in close contact with nature instilled in Hemingway a lifelong passion for outdoor adventure and for living in remote or isolated areas.
Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School from September, 1913 until graduation in June 1917. He excelled both academically and athletically; he boxed, played American football, and displayed particular talent in English classes. His first writing experience was writing for "Trapeze" and "Tabula" (the school's newspaper and yearbook, respectively) in his junior year, then serving as editor in his senior year. He sometimes wrote under the pen name Ring Lardner, Jr., a nod to his literary hero Ring Lardner.
After high school, Hemingway did not want to go to college. Instead, at age eighteen, he began his writing career as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star. Although he worked at the newspaper for only six months (October 17, 1917-April 30, 1918), throughout his lifetime he used the guidance of the Star's style guide as a foundation for his writing style: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."In honor of the centennial year of Hemingway's birth (1899), The Star named Hemingway its top reporter of the last hundred years.
World War I
Ernest Hemingway in his World War I uniform
Hemingway left his reporting job after only a few months and, against his father's wishes, tried to join the United States Army to see action in World War I. He failed the medical examination due to poor vision, and instead joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. On his route to the Italian front, he stopped in Paris, which was under constant bombardment from German artillery. Instead of staying in the relative safety of the Hotel Florida, Hemingway tried to get as close to combat as possible.
Soon after arriving on the Italian Front Hemingway witnessed the brutalities of war. On his first day on duty an ammunition factory near Milan blew up. Hemingway had to pick up the human—primarily female—remains. Hemingway wrote about this experience in his short story "A Natural History of the Dead". This first encounter with death left him shaken.
The soldiers he met later did not lighten the horror. One of them, Eric Dorman-Smith, entertained Hemingway with a line from Part Two of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Act III, Scene II: "By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death...and let it go which way it will, he that dies this year is quit for the next."(Hemingway, for his part, would quote this line in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber", one of his famous short stories set in Africa.) To another soldier, Hemingway once said, "You are troppo vecchio (It. too old) for this war, pop." The 50-year old soldier replied, "I can die as well as any man."
On 8 July 1918, Hemingway was wounded delivering supplies to soldiers, which ended his career as an ambulance driver. He was hit by an Austrian trench mortar shell that left fragments in his legs, and was also hit by a burst of machine-gun fire. He was later awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor (medaglia d'argento) from the Italian government for dragging a wounded Italian soldier to safety in spite of his own injuries. He was credited as the first American wounded in Italy during WWI by newspapers at the time but there is debate surrounding the veracity of this claim.
Hemingway worked in a Milan hospital run by the American Red Cross. With very little in the way of entertainment, he often drank heavily and read newspapers to pass the time. Here he met Agnes von Kurowsky of Washington, D.C., one of eighteen nurses attending groups of four patients each, who was more than six years his senior. Hemingway fell in love with her, but their relationship did not survive his return to the United States; instead of following Hemingway to America, as originally planned, she became romantically involved with an Italian officer. This left an indelible mark on his psyche and provided inspiration for, and was fictionalized in, one of his early novels, A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway's first story based on this relationship, "A Very Short Story," appeared in 1925.
First novels and other early works
Ernest Hemingway's apartment in 1921 in Chicago, 1239 North Dearborn.
After the war, Hemingway returned to Oak Park, and in 1920, he moved to an apartment on 1599 Bathurst Street, now known as The Hemingway, in the Humewood-Cedarvale neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario. During his stay, he found a job with the Toronto Star newspaper. He worked as a freelancer, staff writer, and foreign correspondent. Hemingway befriended fellow Star reporter Morley Callaghan. Callaghan had begun writing short stories at this time; he showed them to Hemingway, who praised them as fine work. They would later be reunited in Paris.
For a short time from late 1920 through most of 1921, Hemingway lived on the near north side of Chicago, while still filing stories for The Toronto Star. He also worked as associate editor of the Co-operative Commonwealth, a monthly journal. On September 3rd, 1921, Hemingway married his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After the honeymoon they moved to a cramped top floor apartment on the 1300 block of Clark Street. In September, he moved to a cramped fourth floor apartment (3rd floor by Chicago building standard) at 1239 North Dearborn in a then run-down section of Chicago's near north side. The building still stands with a plaque on the front of it calling it "The Hemingway Apartment." Hadley found it dark and depressing, but in December, 1921, the Hemingways left Chicago and Oak Park, never to live there again, and moved abroad.
At the advice of Sherwood Anderson, they settled in Paris, France, where Hemingway covered the Greco-Turkish War for the Toronto Star. Anderson gave him a letter of introduction to Gertrude Stein. She became his mentor and introduced him to the "Parisian Modern Movement" then ongoing in the Montparnasse Quarter; this was the beginning of the American expatriate circle that became known as the "Lost Generation", a term popularized by Hemingway in the epigraph to his novel, The Sun Also Rises, and his memoir, A Moveable Feast. The epithet, "Lost Generation" was reportedly appropriated by Miss Stein from her French garage mechanic when he made the offhand comment that hers was "une generation perdue". His other influential mentor was Ezra Pound, the founder of imagism. Hemingway later said of this eclectic group, "Ezra was right half the time, and when he was wrong, he was so wrong you were never in any doubt about it. Gertrude was always right."The group often frequented Sylvia Beach's bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., at 12 Rue de l'Odéon. After the 1922 publication and American banning of colleague James Joyce's Ulysses, Hemingway used Toronto-based friends to smuggle copies of the novel into the United States (Hemingway writes of meeting and talking with Joyce in Paris in A Moveable Feast). His own first book, called Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), was published in Paris by Robert McAlmon.
After much success as a foreign correspondent, Hemingway returned to Toronto, Canada in 1923. During his second stint living in Toronto, Hemingway's first son was born. He was named John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway, but would later be known as Jack. Hemingway asked Gertrude Stein to be Jack's godmother.
Around the same time, Hemingway had a bitter falling out with his editor, Harry Hindmarsh, who believed Hemingway had been spoiled by his time overseas. Hindmarsh gave Hemingway mundane assignments, and Hemingway grew bitter and wrote an angry resignation in December 1923. However, his resignation was either ignored or rescinded, and Hemingway continued to write sporadically for The Toronto Star through 1924.Most of Hemingway's work for the Star was later published in the 1985 collection Dateline: Toronto.
Hemingway's American literary debut came with the publication of the short story cycle In Our Time (1925). The vignettes that now constitute the interchapters of the American version were initially published in Europe as in our time (1924). This work was important for Hemingway, reaffirming to him that his minimalist style could be accepted by the literary community. "Big Two-Hearted River" is the collection's best-known story.
In April 1925, two weeks after the publication of The Great Gatsby, Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Dingo Bar. Fitzgerald and Hemingway were at first close friends, often drinking and talking together. They sometimes exchanged manuscripts, and Fitzgerald tried to do much to advance Hemingway's career and the publication of his first collections of stories.
La Closerie des Lilas restaurant (seen here in 1909), where Hemingway wrote parts of The Sun Also Rises.
Hemingway's relationships in France provided inspiration for Hemingway's first full-length novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926) (published in the U.K. under the title "Fiesta"). The novel was semi-autobiographical, following a group of expatriate Americans around Paris and Spain. The climactic scenes of the novel are set in Pamplona, during the fiesta that the novel made famous throughout Europe and the U.S. The novel was a success and met with critical acclaim. While Hemingway had initially claimed that the novel was an obsolete form of literature, he was apparently inspired to write it after reading Fitzgerald's manuscript for The Great Gatsby.
Hemingway divorced Hadley Richardson in 1927 and married Pauline Pfeiffer, a devout Roman Catholic from Piggott, Arkansas. Pfeiffer was an occasional fashion reporter, publishing in magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. Hemingway converted to Catholicism himself at this time. That year saw the publication of Men Without Women, a collection of short stories, containing The Killers, one of Hemingway's best-known and most-anthologized stories. In 1928, Hemingway and Pfeiffer moved to Key West, Florida, to begin their new life together. However, their new life was soon interrupted by yet another tragic event in Hemingway's life.
In 1928, Hemingway's father, Clarence, troubled with diabetes and financial instabilities, committed suicide using an old Civil War pistol. This greatly hurt Hemingway and is perhaps played out through Robert Jordan's father's suicide in the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. He immediately traveled to Oak Park to arrange the funeral and stirred up controversy by vocalizing what he thought to be the Catholic view, that suicides go to Hell. At about the same time, Harry Crosby, founder of the Black Sun Press and a friend of Hemingway's from his days in Paris, also committed suicide.
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer House, built in 1927.
In that same year, Hemingway's second son, Patrick, was born in Kansas City (his third son, Gregory, would be born to the couple a few years later). It was a Caesarean birth after difficult labor, details of which were incorporated into the concluding scene of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway lived and wrote most of A Farewell to Arms plus several short stories at Pauline's parents' house in Piggott, Arkansas. The Pfeiffer House and Carriage House has since been converted into a museum owned by Arkansas State University.
Published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms recounts the romance between Frederic Henry, an American soldier, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The novel is heavily autobiographical: the plot was directly inspired by his relationship with Agnes von Kurowsky in Milan; Catherine's parturition was inspired by the intense labor pains of Pauline in the birth of Patrick; the real-life Kitty Cannell inspired the fictional Helen Ferguson; the priest was based on Don Giuseppe Bianchi, the priest of the 69th and 70th regiments of the Brigata Ancona. While the inspiration of the character Rinaldi is obscure, he had already appeared in In Our Time. A Farewell to Arms was published at a time when many other World War I books were prominent, including Frederic Manning's Her Privates We, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Richard Aldington's Death of a Hero, and Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That. The success of A Farewell to Arms made Hemingway financially independent.
Key West and the Spanish Civil War
Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, now a museum, and also home for a colony of alleged descendents of Hemingway's famous polydactyl cat
Following the advice of John Dos Passos, Hemingway returned to Key West, Florida in 1931, where he established his first American home, which has since been converted to a museum. From this 1851 solid limestone house — a wedding present from Pauline's uncle — Hemingway fished in the waters around the Dry Tortugas with his longtime friend Waldo Pierce, went to the famous bar Sloppy Joe's, and occasionally traveled to Spain, gathering material for Death in the Afternoon and Winner Take Nothing. Over the next 9 years, until the end of this marriage in 1940, and then in a second period throughout the 1950s, Hemingway would do an estimated 70% of his lifetime's writing in the writer's den in the upper floor of the converted garage, in back of this house.
Death in the Afternoon, a book about bullfighting, was published in 1932. Hemingway had become an aficionado after seeing the Pamplona fiesta of 1925, fictionalized in The Sun Also Rises. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway extensively discussed the metaphysics of bullfighting: the ritualized, almost religious practice. Hemingway considered becoming a bullfighter himself and showed middling aptitude in several novieros before deciding that writing was his true and only suitable professional metier. In his writings on Spain, he was influenced by the Spanish master Pío Baroja. When Hemingway won the Nobel Prize, he traveled to see Baroja, then on his death bed, specifically to tell him he thought Baroja deserved the prize more than he. Baroja agreed and something of the usual Hemingway tiff with another writer ensued despite his original good intentions.
A safari in the fall of 1933 led him to Mombasa, Nairobi, and Machakos in Kenya, moving on to Tanzania, where he hunted in the Serengeti, around Lake Manyara and west and southeast of the present-day Tarangire National Park. 1935 saw the publication of Green Hills of Africa, an account of his safari. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber were the fictionalized results of his African experiences. Hemingway fell ill on this trip, suffering a prolapsed intestine.
In 1937, Hemingway traveled to Spain in order to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance. While there, Hemingway broke his friendship with John Dos Passos because, despite warnings, Dos Passos continued to report on the atrocities of not only the fascist Nationalists whom Hemingway disliked, but also those of the elected and radicalized left-leaning Republicans whom he favored; characteristically, Hemingway spread a story that Dos Passos had fled Spain out of cowardice. In this context Hemingway's colleague and associate Herbert Matthews, who would become more well known for his favorable reports on Fidel Castro, showed a similar predilection for the Republican side as Hemingway. Hemingway, who was a convert to Catholicism during his marriage to his wife Pauline, began to question his religion at this time, eventually leaving the church (though friends indicate that he had "funny ties" to Catholicism for the rest of his life). The war also strained Hemingway's marriage. Pauline Pfieffer was a devout Catholic and, as such, sided with the fascist, pro-Catholic regime of Franco, whereas Hemingway mostly supported the Republican government, for all his criticisms of it. During this time, Hemingway wrote a little known essay, The Denunciation, which would not be published until 1969 within a collection of stories, the Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War. The story seems autobiographical, suggesting that Hemingway might have been an informant for the Republic as well as a weapons instructor during the war.
Some health problems characterized this period of Hemingway's life: an anthrax infection, a cut eyeball, a gash in his forehead, grippe, toothache, hemorrhoids, kidney trouble from fishing, torn groin muscle, finger gashed to the bone in an accident with a punching ball, lacerations (to arms, legs, and face) from a ride on a runaway horse through a deep Wyoming forest, and a broken arm from a car accident.
The Forty-Nine Stories
In 1938—along with his only full-length play, titled The Fifth Column—49 stories were published in the collection The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories. Hemingway's intention was, as he openly stated in his foreword, to write more. Many of the stories that make up this collection can be found in other abridged collections, including In Our Time, Men Without Women, Winner Take Nothing, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
Some of the collection's important stories include Old Man at the Bridge, On The Quai at Smyrna, Hills Like White Elephants, One Reader Writes, The Killers and (perhaps most famously) A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. While these stories are rather short, the book also includes much longer stories, among them The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.
Walkway named for Ernest Hemingway, Ronda, Spain
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Francisco Franco and the Nationalists defeated the Republicans, ending the Spanish Civil War in the spring of 1939. Hemingway lost an adopted homeland to Franco's fascists, and would later lose his beloved Key West, Florida home due to his 1940 divorce. A few weeks after the divorce, Hemingway married his companion of four years in Spain, Martha Gellhorn, his third wife. His novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940. It was written in 1939 in Cuba and Key West, and was finished in July, 1940. The long work, which takes place during the Spanish Civil War, was based on real events and tells of an American named Robert Jordan fighting with Spanish soldiers on the Republican side. It was largely based upon Hemingway's experience of living in Spain and reporting on the war. It is one of his most notable literary accomplishments. The title is taken from the penultimate paragraph of John Donne's Meditation XVII.
World War II and its aftermath
The United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941, and for the first time in his life, Hemingway sought to take part in naval warfare. Aboard the Pilar, now a Q-Ship, Hemingway's crew was charged with sinking German submarines threatening shipping off the coasts of Cuba and the United States. After the FBI took over Caribbean counter-espionage, he went to Europe as a war correspondent for Collier's magazine. There Hemingway observed the D-Day landings from an LCVP (landing craft), although he was not allowed to go ashore. He later became angry that his wife, Martha Gellhorn — by then, more a rival war correspondent than a wife — had managed to get ashore in the early hours of June 7 dressed as a nurse, after she had crossed the Atlantic to England in a ship loaded with explosives. Hemingway acted as an unofficial liaison officer at Château de Rambouillet, and afterwards formed his own partisan group which, as he later wrote, took part in the liberation of Paris. Although this claim has been challenged by many historians, he was nevertheless unquestionably on the scene.It has also been purported that while traveling to the front he threw a hand grenade into a basement room full of German field grade officers despite his official non-combatant role.
After the war, Hemingway started work on The Garden of Eden, which was never finished and would be published posthumously in a much-abridged form in 1986. At one stage, he planned a major trilogy which was to comprise "The Sea When Young", "The Sea When Absent" and "The Sea in Being" (the latter eventually published in 1952 as The Old Man and the Sea). He spent time in a small Italian town called Acciaroli (located approximately 136 km south of Naples). There was also a "Sea-Chase" story; three of these pieces were edited and stuck together as the posthumously-published novel Islands in the Stream (1970).
Newly divorced from Gellhorn after four contentious years, Hemingway married war correspondent Mary Welsh Hemingway, whom he had met overseas in 1944. He returned to Cuba, and in 1945 at the Soviet Embassy became public witness to the Rolando Masferrer schism within the Cuban communist party (García Montes, and Alonso Ávila, 1970 p. 362).
Hemingway's first novel after For Whom the Bell Tolls was Across the River and into the Trees (1950), set in post-World War II Venice. He derived the title from the last words of American Civil War Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Enamored of a young Italian girl (Adriana Ivancich) at the time, Hemingway wrote Across the River and into the Trees as a romance between a war-weary Colonel Cantwell (based on his friend, then Colonel Charles Lanham) and the young Renata (clearly based on Adriana; "Renata" has an assonance with "rinata", meaning "reborn" in Italian). The novel received largely bad reviews, many of which accused Hemingway of tastelessness, stylistic ineptitude, and sentimentality; however this criticism was not shared by all critics.
One section of the sea trilogy was published as The Old Man and the Sea in 1952. That novella's great success, both commercial and critical, satisfied and fulfilled Hemingway. It earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. The next year he was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. Upon receiving the latter he noted that he would have been "happy; happier...if the prize had been given to that beautiful writer Isak Dinesen". These awards helped to restore his international reputation.
Aboard his yacht, the Pilar, ca. mid 1950s
Bartender at the famous La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. Hanging on the bar is a plate with a likeness of Ernest Hemingway and a framed, signed message written by him. He was a regular patron.
Then, his legendary bad luck struck once again; on a safari, he was seriously injured in two successive plane crashes; he sprained his right shoulder, arm, and left leg, had a grave concussion, temporarily lost vision in his left eye and the hearing in his left ear, suffered paralysis of the spine, a crushed vertebra, ruptured liver, spleen and kidney, and first degree burns on his face, arms, and leg. Some American newspapers mistakenly published his obituary, thinking he had been killed.
Hemingway was then badly injured one month later in a bushfire accident, which left him with second degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. The pain left him in prolonged anguish, and he was unable to travel to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize.
A glimmer of hope came with the discovery of some of his old manuscripts from 1928 in the Ritz cellars, which were transformed into A Moveable Feast. Although some of his energy seemed to be restored, severe drinking problems kept him down. His blood pressure and cholesterol were perilously high, he suffered from aortal inflammation, and his depression was aggravated by his dipsomania. However, in October 1956, Hemingway found the strength to travel to Madrid and act as a pallbearer at Pío Baroja's burial. Baroja was one of Hemingway's literary influences.
Following the revolution in Cuba and the ousting of General Fulgencio Batista in 1959, expropriations of foreign owned property led many Americans to return to the United States. Hemingway chose to stay a little longer. It is commonly said that he maintained good relations with Fidel Castro and declared his support for the revolution, and he is quoted as wishing Castro "all luck" with running the country. However, the Hemingway account "The Shot"is used by Cabrera Infante and others as evidence of conflict between Hemingway and Fidel Castro dating back to 1948 and the killing of "Manolo" Castro, a friend of Hemingway. Hemingway came under surveillance by the FBI both during World War II and afterwards (most probably because of his long association with marxist Spanish Civil War veterans who were again active in Cuba) for his residence and activities in Cuba. In 1960, he left the island and Finca Vigía, his estate outside Havana, that he owned for over twenty years. The official Cuban government account is that it was left to the Cuban government, which has made it into a museum devoted to the author. In 2001, Cuba's state-owned tourism conglomerate, El Gran-Caribe SA, began licensing the La Bodeguita del Medio international restaurant chain relying largely on the original Havana restaurant's association with Hemingway, a frequent visitor.
In February 1960, Ernest Hemingway was unable to get his bullfighting narrative The Dangerous Summer to the publishers. He therefore had his wife Mary summon his friend, Life Magazine bureau head Will Lang Jr., to leave Paris and come to Spain. Hemingway persuaded Lang to let him print the manuscript, along with a picture layout, before it came out in hardcover. Although not a word of it was on paper, the proposal was agreed upon. The first part of the story appeared in Life Magazine on September 5, 1960, with the remaining installments being printed in successive issues.
Hemingway was upset by the photographs in his The Dangerous Summer article. He was receiving treatment in Ketchum, Idaho for high blood pressure and liver problems — and also electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression and continued paranoia, although this may in fact have helped to precipitate his suicide, since he reportedly suffered significant memory loss as a result of the shock treatments. He also lost weight, his 6-foot (183 cm) frame appearing gaunt at 170 pounds (77 kg, 12st 2lb).
Hemingway attempted suicide in the spring of 1961, and received ECT treatment again. Some three weeks short of his 62nd birthday, he took his own life on the morning of July 2, 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, by way of shotgun to the face. Judged not mentally responsible for his final act, he was buried in a Roman Catholic service. Hemingway himself blamed the ECT treatments for "putting him out of business" by destroying his memory; some medical and scholarly opinion has been receptive to this view, although others, including one of the physicians who prescribed the electroshock regimen, dispute that opinion.
Hemingway is believed to have purchased the weapon he used to commit suicide at Abercrombie & Fitch, which was then an elite excursion goods retailer and firearm supplier. (The shotgun was a Boss & Co ordered through A&F.) In a particularly gruesome suicide, he rested the gun butt of the double-barreled shotgun on the floor of a hallway in his home, leaned over it to put the twin muzzles to his forehead just above the eyes, and pulled both triggers. The coroner, at request of the family, did not do an autopsy.
Other members of Hemingway's immediate family also committed suicide, including his father, Clarence Hemingway, his siblings Ursula and Leicester, and possibly his granddaughter Margaux Hemingway. Some believe that certain members of Hemingway's paternal line had a hereditary disease known as haemochromatosis (bronze diabetes), in which an excess of iron concentration in the blood causes damage to the pancreas and also causes depression or instability in the cerebrum. Hemingway's father is known to have developed haemochromatosis in the years prior to his suicide at age fifty-nine. Throughout his life, Hemingway had been a heavy drinker, succumbing to alcoholism in his later years.
Hemingway possibly suffered from manic depression, now known as bipolar disorder, and was subsequently treated with electroshock therapy at Menninger Clinic. He later blamed his memory loss, which he cited as a reason for not wanting to live, upon the ECT sessions.
Hemingway is interred in the town cemetery in Ketchum, Idaho, at the north end of town. A memorial was erected in 1966 at another location, overlooking Trail Creek, north of Ketchum. It is inscribed with a eulogy he wrote for a friend, Gene Van Guilder:
Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever
Ernest Hemingway - Idaho - 1939
Celebrating Hemingway's love for Idaho and the frontier, The Ernest Hemingway Festival takes place annually in Ketchum and Sun Valley in late September with scholars, a reading by the PEN/Hemingway Award winner and many more events, including historical tours, open mic nights and a sponsored dinner at Hemingway's home in Warm Springs now maintained by the Nature Conservancy in Ketchum.
Hemingway was a prolific letter writer and, in 1981, many of these were published by Scribner in Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters. It was met with some controversy as Hemingway himself stated he never wished to publish his letters. Further letters were published in a book of his correspondence with his editor Max Perkins, The Only Thing that Counts .
A long-term project is now underway to publish the thousands of letters Hemingway wrote during his lifetime. The project is being undertaken as a joint venture by Penn State University and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Sandra Spanier, Professor of English and wife of Penn State president Graham Spanier, is serving as general editor of the collection.
Hemingway was still writing up to his death; most of the unfinished works which were Hemingway's sole creation have been published posthumously; they are A Moveable Feast, Islands in the Stream, The Nick Adams Stories (portions of which were previously unpublished), The Dangerous Summer, and The Garden of Eden. In a note forwarding "Islands in the Stream", Mary Hemingway indicated that she worked with Charles Scribner, Jr. on "preparing this book for publication from Ernest's original manuscript". She also stated that "beyond the routine chores of correcting spelling and punctuation, we made some cuts in the manuscript, I feel that Ernest would surely have made them himself. The book is all Ernest's. We have added nothing to it." Some controversy has surrounded the publication of these works, insofar as it has been suggested that it is not necessarily within the jurisdiction of Hemingway's relatives or publishers to determine whether these works should be made available to the public. For example, scholars often disapprovingly note that the version of The Garden of Eden published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1986, though in no way a revision of Hemingway's original words, nonetheless omits two-thirds of the original manuscript.
The Nick Adams Stories appeared posthumously in 1972. What is now considered the definitive compilation of all of Hemingway's short stories was published as The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway, first compiled and published in 1987. As well, in 1969 The Fifth Column and Four Stories Of The Spanish Civil War was published. It contains Hemingway's only full length play, The Fifth Column, which was previously published along with the First Forty-Nine Stories in 1938, along with four unpublished works written about Hemingway's experiences during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1999, another novel entitled True at First Light appeared under the name of Ernest Hemingway, though it was heavily edited by his son Patrick Hemingway. Six years later, Under Kilimanjaro, a re-edited and considerably longer version of True at First Light appeared. In either edition, the novel is a fictional account of Hemingway's final African safari in 1953—1954. He spent several months in Kenya with his fourth wife, Mary, before his near-fatal plane crashes. Anticipation of the novel, whose manuscript was completed in 1956, adumbrates perhaps an unprecedentedly large critical battle over whether it is proper to publish the work (many sources mention that a new, light side of Hemingway will be seen as opposed to his canonical, macho image), even as editors Robert W. Lewis of University of North Dakota and Robert E. Fleming of University of New Mexico have pushed it through to publication; the novel was published on September 15, 2005.
Also published posthumously were several collections of his work as a journalist. These contain his columns and articles for Esquire Magazine, The North American Newspaper Alliance, and the Toronto Star; they include Byline: Ernest Hemingway edited by William White, and Hemingway: The Wild Years edited by Gene Z. Hanrahan. Finally, a collection of introductions, forwards, public letters and other miscellanea was published as Hemingway and the Mechanism of Fame in 2005.
Influence and legacy
The influence of Hemingway's writings on American literature was considerable and continues today. James Joyce called "A Clean, Well Lighted Place" "one of the best stories ever written". (The same story also influenced several of Edward Hopper's best known paintings, most notably "Nighthawks.") Pulp fiction and "hard boiled" crime fiction (which flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s) often owed a strong debt to Hemingway. During World War II, J. D. Salinger met and corresponded with Hemingway, whom he acknowledged as an influence. In one letter to Hemingway, Salinger wrote that their talks "had given him his only hopeful minutes of the entire war," and jokingly "named himself national chairman of the Hemingway Fan Clubs."Hunter S. Thompson often compared himself to Hemingway, and terse Hemingway-esque sentences can be found in his early novel, The Rum Diary. Thompson's later suicide by gunshot to the head mirrored Hemingway's. Hemingway's terse prose style--"Nick stood up. He was all right."-- is known to have inspired Charles Bukowski, Chuck Palahniuk, Douglas Coupland and many Generation X writers. Hemingway's style also influenced Jack Kerouac and other Beat Generation writers. Hemingway also provided a role model to fellow author and hunter Robert Ruark, who is frequently referred to as "the poor man's Ernest Hemingway". Beyond the more formal literature authors, popular novelist Elmore Leonard, who authored scores of Western and Crime genre novels, cites Hemingway as his preeminent influence and this is evident in his tightly written prose. Though he never claimed to write serious literature, he did say, "I learned by imitating Hemingway....until I realized that I didn't share his attitude about life. I didn't take myself or anything as seriously as he did."